Ohio State University – a Historical Look at Their Most Memorable Rivalries

Ohio State football

From the moment the Ohio State Buckeyes take the field, there is an undeniable sense of intensity and passion that radiates from the team and its fans. This energy is not just a result of their current success, but is deeply rooted in their long history of fierce and storied rivalries both on and off the field. As one of the top collegiate football programs in the country, Ohio State has faced off against some of the most formidable opponents in the nation, leaving behind a trail of legendary games and unforgettable moments. In this article, we will take a trip down memory lane and revisit some of Ohio State’s most important matchups, delving into the rich history of their greatest rivalries and the impact they have had on the university, its players, and its passionate fan base.

Wolverine Wars – Ohio State vs. Michigan

One of the most iconic and intense rivalries in all of sports, the Ohio State vs. Michigan football game, also known as “The Game,” is a showdown that has spanned more than 100 years. With both teams being perennial powerhouses, this annual clash of titans always carries an enormous amount of pressure and weight. The first game between the two teams took place in 1897, with Michigan taking home the win. However, since then, Ohio State has dominated the series, holding a 47-41-4 record against the Wolverines.

But wins and losses aside, this rivalry is so much more than just a football game. It is a battle between two of the most prestigious and storied universities in the country, both of which have a strong sense of pride and tradition. The Buckeyes and the Wolverines have a deep-seated dislike for each other, with both teams fighting for bragging rights and ultimate supremacy on the field. The rivalry is so deeply ingrained in the culture of these two schools that it transcends football and extends to all aspects of university life.

The Game has produced some of the most epic moments in college football history and has seen some of the greatest names in the sport compete against each other. From legendary coaches like Woody Hayes and Bo Schembechler to star players such as Archie Griffin and Desmond Howard, this rivalry has seen it all. Each year, fans wait with bated breath to witness the next chapter in this historic rivalry, and the emotions run high for weeks leading up to the big game. As the Ohio State fight song says, “We don’t give a damn for the whole state of Michigan” – a sentiment shared by Buckeye fans all over the world.

The Battle for Paul Bunyan’s Axe – Ohio State vs. Minnesota

Another longtime rival of Ohio State, the University of Minnesota Golden Gophers have been a thorn in the side of the Buckeyes for over a century. What started as a friendly competition between two universities that share a border has turned into a fierce rivalry that is fueled by a deep-seated dislike for each other. Since the first meeting in 1891, these two teams have battled it out on the gridiron 59 times, with Ohio State holding the advantage with a record of 46-7-3.

The rivalry between these two schools was intensified by a literal prize that was introduced in 1930 – Paul Bunyan’s Axe. This massive trophy, which stands at over six feet tall and weighs 70 pounds, is awarded to the winner of the annual Ohio State vs. Minnesota game. The iconic tradition of the winning team carrying the axe around the stadium and displaying it proudly has become a cherished moment for fans of both schools. This trophy serves as a symbol of the hard-fought battle between these two teams and is a constant reminder of the rivalry that runs deep within both programs.

The intensity of this rivalry has also been heightened by the close proximity of the two schools, with many fans and alumni living in the same state. Each year, the atmosphere is electric when these two teams take the field, and it’s anyone’s guess who will come out on top. But one thing is for sure – this rivalry will continue to be a fan favorite for years to come.

The Buckeyes vs. Fighting Irish – Ohio State vs. Notre Dame

Known as “The Battle of the Catholics vs. The Convicts,” the rivalry between Ohio State and Notre Dame is one of the most intense in college football. With both teams having a rich and storied history, this matchup has always captured the attention of fans and media alike. Although these two teams have only met five times on the field, the games have been highly significant and have left lasting memories for both programs.

The first time these two teams faced off was in the 1935 Rose Bowl, when Notre Dame emerged victorious with a score of 18-0. However, the most famous game between the Buckeyes and the Fighting Irish took place in 1996, when they met in the Fiesta Bowl for the National Championship. Ohio State, led by star running back Eddie George, defeated Notre Dame in a thrilling 20-16 game, securing the school’s first national title in 27 years.

Aside from the high stakes and memorable moments on the field, this rivalry also has a unique off-field component. The name “Catholics vs. Convicts” originated in the 1980s when Ohio State linebacker Pepper Johnson mocked Notre Dame’s flashy attire, calling them “convicts.” This not-so-friendly nickname stuck, and from then on, this rivalry became more than just a football game, but a clash of cultures and values.

Final thoughts

As one of the most successful and storied football programs in the country, Ohio State has a long history of intense and passionate rivalries. From the historic clashes with Michigan and Minnesota to the unique showdowns with Notre Dame, these rivalries have added color and flavor to the college football landscape. For Buckeye fans, there is nothing quite like the anticipation and excitement that comes with facing off against their biggest foes, and these matchups will continue to captivate audiences for generations to come.


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